Ethel Moore

Ethel MooreMrs. Moore is the grandmother of Alice Fowler, who was interviewed for the Lawrence sesquicentennial oral history project. Her father came from a slave family and was an exoduster. She was born in Lawrence, but her family moved to Indiana and didn't return to Lawrence until she was in high school. Then they lived in north Lawrence. She worked for white families and discusses her role in those relationships. Her husband was deferred from the draft in World War II because of his age. Her mother attended KU for a year. The whole family was committed to education and read a great deal. She discusses African American authors of the early twentieth century.  Her husband "scuffled" (picked up scraps) to help pay utilities. She was a homemaker until the Depression and then worked "out." She talks about being allowed to vote for the first time and women's attitudes toward voting. She appreciated FDR starting Social Security. Her mother helped organize the north Lawrence "Colored PTA." Mrs. Moore was also very active in the Lincoln School and the citywide integrated PTA council. Her sons fought in World War II.

Ethel May Josephine Elizabeth Lenore Johnson Moore
823 Connecticut
Lawrence, Kansas

Interviewed by Curtis Nether

MR. NETHER: You understand that we are trying to compile information to write a book, the black history of Douglas County, and we need an acknowledgment from you so that we know that you know that the material that we are going to use is to write a book, to put it into a book form, and it frees us from any legal problems or anything because of it. We are going to publish this information. Is that all right with you?

MRS. MOORE: I don't think that the things that I might say or recall, I don't think I would have any compunction of giving you the information.

MR. NETHER: Okay. My first question here would be, your name. Could you tell us your name?

MRS. MOORE: I'm smiling because of the background of my first name. I am a second child and my brother died before I was born, and all the relatives were so upset until apparently they tacked a name onto me when I came along hoping to keep me here. And evidently it worked because I am about the oldest one living, and my name is Ethel May Josephine Elizabeth Lenore Johnson Moore.


MRS. MOORE: And so the Moore is my married name, but all that other was the name I carried all my life.

MR. NETHER: Could you tell us your age?

MRS. MOORE: I am eighty-eight years old. I was born April 30 in 1889 here in Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Moore, how many children do you have?

MRS. MOORE: I had seven.

MR. NETHER: What is the range of ages of your children?

MRS. MOORE: My baby is 44 and then they go up. The next boy is 48 and then my next child, he is 51, and Gene will be 54 in December and Billy is 56 and Charles is 58 and Betty would have been 60. But I have two that are gone.

MR. NETHER: Can you remember your parents' names?

MRS. MOORE: My daddy was Sam Henry Johnson. He was born at the closing of slavery time and his folks were coming with that group of people counted in the exodus from Kentucky. When they were coming through Arkansas, my dad's mother had to stop off in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and gave birth to this child, and she brought him along with the others here to Kansas in her arms. And my mother was born here in Lawrence. Her mother was sort of a contemporary of that time, and the end of the Civil War they were owned by people in Missouri, and she and her brother and her sister came from Independence here to Kansas and settled here in Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: Do you know why your father came here?

MRS. MOORE: Because his mother brought him, a babe in arms.

MR. NETHER: All right. Do you know why your father's mother came? What were her reasons for coming?

MRS. MOORE: They were just seeking a place to stay after they were free.

MR. NETHER: Just the reason I ask, Kansas around 1879 was the first place where many black people migrated.

MRS. MOORE: All of these people were of that group that were designated as the Exodusters, and this great group were coming west, and they dropped off in groups. There's a group that dropped off in Kansas City. Some came farther, some dropped off here. There was a group that dropped off in Topeka, and the final end of that tag-end group were the people that stopped off in Nicodemus, Kansas.

MR. NETHER: Were there any acquaintances here when your father's mother came?

MRS. MOORE: I didn't know anything about that, and we haven't been curious as to worry about what is past. A lot of times we had a tendency to deliberately forget things that you don't like to remember, and if our folks knew about it, the kids weren't interested enough to ask. We didn't ask for old folks' tales of things. The older people had to be dependent on the things they remembered. The younger, as we get to learn to read, we hunt up things we want to read about and just neglect those that aren't personally interesting to them.

MR. NETHER: I can understand that. Mrs. Moore, what I want to ask you now is can you remember—as far back as you can now, probably when you were a little girl-- just generally now, how did white people and black people relate to one another here in Douglas County?

MRS. MOORE: When I was in that period of my life—I was born here in Lawrence—but when I was around six years old my dad had gone to Indiana to work with this company that you are reading about there, so from six years old until I got in high school, those early impressions are back in Indiana. It isn't in Douglas County.


MRS. MOORE: And then after my dad died and we came back to Lawrence, we settled in north Lawrence, and I was in high school. I was transferred from Indiana to the Lawrence high school, and I went there to school. But I never had much contact with a whole black community until that time because one of the things that impressed me when I got here to go to school was the big groups of black people. There they had the little tiny kind of storefront church. My dad was one that started the little Baptist church back there, and here were the Ninth Street Church and the Methodist church over here. I was just maybe awed by seeing so many blacks in one place. Just looked, I guess, nice, or something, to see a big group of black people in one place because where we lived in Indiana we were the only black people that lived on that street. It was a rather short street, but we were the only—it happened to be named Black Street, but that was just after the man.

MR. NETHER: Can you remember anything about Jim Crowism here in Douglas County? Were blacks able to go anywhere that they wanted to go, to go in any business, go in any restaurant, any schools that they wanted to?

MRS. MOORE: When I first went to school, I entered school in high school here, and it was integrated. And in the grade schools on this side of the river there was a colored room in the school in west Lawrence and there was a colored room in the school on this side of town and then there was a whole colored school in north Lawrence, because I think in the trek from the South over there was more blacks to settle in north Lawrence than over on this side of town. And you will notice of you find out about where colored lived, they were dotted on this side of the river, way over here and way over there, and you had to just go all over town to find where they lived.

MR. NETHER: Were most of them, however, in north Lawrence, would you say?

MRS. MOORE: At that time I think if you look at the Lawrence history you will find out that north Lawrence was a small town in itself. What do you call that? I remember Grandma and them talking about the council house in north Lawrence where they would have town meetings, and it seemed to be separate from on this side, but I don't know. That's a dim memory of something that I wouldn't know anything about.

MR. NETHER: Now, what I am going to do for the most part, I'm going to mention periods of time in history, and I would like for you to give me general accounts of what it was like here in Douglas County during that time. And some of them you won't remember, but if you can, I would appreciate whatever you can remember.

Can you remember anything in Douglas County that pertained to the Civil War? This was before even your father came. Do you remember any folklore, any old tale, about people telling you what it was like here in Douglas County during the Civil War?

MRS. MOORE: Did the Civil War include the Quantrill period?

MR. NETHER: Yes, ma'em.

MRS. MOORE: I can remember about when Quantrill had come through here to water the horses and how so many of the different stories were told about that, and this kid hid under the boardwalk, and he could remember hearing the horses go over when he was hidden under there.

MR. NETHER: Do you know who this kid was?


MR. NETHER: Was he black?

MRS. MOORE: Yes. That was the reason he was so frightened, I think, trying to get away from them.

MR. NETHER: You say your father came in his mother's arms right after Reconstruction, which was a period of time when blacks and whites were at least legally equal. Reconstruction ended when the Ku Klux Klan, the idea of white supremacy took over again in the South, which was the reason for the exodus of blacks. Blacks were almost in slavery again, so they decided to migrate to Kansas, which was the place of John Brown, and so on. Can you remember anything about this exodus now? How did the people get together? What made them want to come, things of that nature? Just anything at all, Mrs. Moore.

MRS. MOORE: Anything that I had in mind would be something probably that I had read about. I think there's times that you read about a thing and get it so ingrained that you maybe think it really happened or that you was on the scene, which I have been trying to think back, see how far I can go back in my memory, and I find I am lacking a great deal.

MR. NETHER: Okay. That's understandable because we are talking about quite a far back period in time. And eventually we will work our way up to the present and just start there.

MRS. MOORE: What I have sort of remembered about my dad, he was brought from that period up to here and yet he didn't go very far in school, but he was sort of obsessed with the idea of learning and education. As I think back on it, I marvel that a kid who hadn't gone to high school could be so obsessed by books and learning. And when we would do something that he thought merited a pat on the back, he tended to pay us with a book or pay the whole family. I remember the first wad of books we had was the Encyclopedia Britannica that was put in one of these bookcases. He kind of liked reading, and I think maybe he passed that on to me in a way because I did love to read, and it was funny how even I would pick out things I wanted to read about.

MR. NETHER: What books mostly did you read? What kind of books?

MRS. MOORE: I think I was sort of an omnivorous reader because I liked to read about anything. But when I begin to be conscious of books, I first would look at the illustrations and if the illustrations interested me enough, I would want to read that book to see what the picture was about. And then another thing that interested me was quotation marks. And I just turned the book over and if they had a lot of quotation marks, that meant someone was talking about something, and I wondered what they were saying, and it was easier to think about listening to someone talk than reading a lot of description or something. So that's one of the first things that sort of guided me into wanting to read. And then another thing, I was intrigued about how many different kind of people there were in the world, and I wanted to know what they were doing, and I have a tendency to ask, "Who are you? What is your name? Where did you come from? Well, how long have you been in Lawrence? Well, why did you come from way there? How come that you were in New York and how on earth did you find your way from New York clear to the middle of the United States here in Kansas and finally in my home?" And that intrigues me with people. I am not a nosy person. I think it is not nosiness. It is none of my business, but I am just curious. When I think of this whole big wide world and how we will every once in a while maybe ships are passing in the night or something happens and how on earth does it happen that this comes right here? And that separates the stuff in my mind as point in time, you know.

MR. NETHER: Okay. I think that's an asset when you are curious like that though.

MRS. MOORE: When I was at Cherry Manor, I had so many different aides and LPNs, and I found out so many of them were either going to KU or they were helping their husbands who went there, and they came from so many different places, one from New York back here, one from Dakota here and West here, and all of them ended up here at KU, and it's just fascinating.

And if you realize we are all people, and if we were blind, we couldn't have our eyes influenced as to prejudices. We let our eyes first thing to decide what I am going to like or dislike about you.

MR. NETHER: I remember you telling me that yesterday, about the hair and so on.

MRS. MOORE: And I found this picture I was talking about, so when you get through with this, I will let you look at it.

MR. NETHER: Were people like that in early history, the earliest history you can remember here in Douglas County? Did they see people generally and make a judgment on what they were like?

MRS. MOORE: Now, that's a very personal question. You can't read other peoples' minds and try to know why they like you or why they dislike you. So I really think, generally speaking, the blacks were as integrated as they wanted to be. I remember a long time ago, for their recreation they would have a band concert out here in the park, and that would be one of the things we would like to do, is to go to the band concert. And a lot of people had the idea that they would like to do the same thing. Another thing that I would like to do, have to be on the fringe looking in, just like I was looking in at a pretty show, there were different sorority and fraternity houses here in town would have lovely big spring parties, and there were so many of them outdoors. Just hearing about them, you like to see it as a pretty pageant, and I can remember walking from north Lawrence to just look at—from outside. There was one thing. I didn't know the people that went there, I didn't know anything about them, but it was a lovely show that I would like to look at.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever want to go in to the show?

MRS. MOORE: No, because I never—I was brought up sort of thus far and no farther attitude. I didn't try to overstep that. I wasn't at all militant. I remember I was working for a woman and she had a student that was staying in the home and it was a white girl, and this white girl treated her home as the same as she would her own home. If she would have company, she would have them in the living room or something. And one day when I was working for the woman in the day-care capacity, she said, "My goodness, we never get to have any privacy in our family without—whatever this girl's name was. "She's always got her company in there or she's studying," and so on. I said, "Well, what does that worry you about? Why?" "Well, she just isn't in the family and I just feel like we would like to be a little bit more private." I said, "Yes, if you had a colored girl there, she wouldn't expect to be sitting up under you all the time." And now we weren't talking about race or anything, but just in the natural course of conversation. And evidently that was stuck in my head because I said it. And she said, "Well, Ethel, I never thought about that. Maybe that's so." And I do find of the different people in town, sometimes they would have the student that stayed in their home and how if you was colored, you just had your place and that's it. Even in the city, and one thing and another. I read about the colored boys who said—their mothers saying, "Honey, if you don't do that, don't get in all that trouble, if you just stay in your place." That's one thing they felt like, "Well, now, that is my place." But the older ones just, well, haven't you heard of a saying, "I know my place," or "She didn't know her place"? You just automatically put in certain categories you never thought about.

MR. NETHER: It didn't make you angry or anything of that nature?

MRS. MOORE: There wasn't anything to be angry about if you never thought about it. Now, I know lot of times when I would go out to work, and there was one woman I worked for, during our lunch hour she fixed our trays and she usually would bring me a book or paper or something and I had my tray there in the kitchen. We had our own. And she would take her tray, same tray, same thing on it, and she would take her tray in the other room. And I worked for her over a long period of years and looked like in that time it begin to come kind of together, and before things happened that I wasn't working with her, we were eating together. And yet I never thought of it as a real transition from separating, but we had so much to talk about and such a short time to do it, it was better to be just close together to do this talking. Now, when you think about it, that was something that she was brought up with, you don't eat with your help. I don't know whether she had done the same thing if her help had been white or whether she had a friendly association. And every once in a while I would run into something that maybe I would think about it, but my mother always called me gullible. And I was wondering if that was one of the things of it.

MR. NETHER: So you are saying that people even then could be found that didn't particularly matter what color you were, but if you were a good person, period, you could relate to another good person?

MRS. MOORE: Yes, I think that in a way.

MR. NETHER: It didn't matter. Now, you have white people saying black people are devils, no good, and you had blacks saying the same thing about whites, but actually it wasn't like that at all, to your knowledge?

MRS. MOORE: You have to be personal. I remember once I was working for a white minister and his wife. He was the pastor of the Episcopal—no—Presbyterian church, I think, and I was helping his wife with a luncheon one day, and he happened to come in the kitchen, and she says, "Well, dear, this is Mrs. Moore," and I said, "How do you do?" And he wasn't there very long, but he knew I was Mrs. Moore, and yet he stopped to say, "What is your first name?" And I think that must have rather startled me, and I looked at him, and I said, "What?" He says, "Your first name?" Says, "I like to call people by their first name." And said, "Do you mind?" And I said, "Oh, well, a rose by any name is just as sweet, so suit yourself." When he spoke the next time, he said, "Mrs. Moore." And I don't know whether my answer influenced what he was saying or whether him asking me my first name, I don't know why—what happened that way.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Moore, I want to ask you some more questions now that pertain to historical events in our past. Can you remember what it was like here in Douglas County during World War I?

MRS. MOORE: World War I. I was married, and I remember the men having to sign up. I had my first child and we had to go to the courthouse and sit there. There was people from the country and people all around going up to be classified, and my husband was too old from May to June, and I had the child. The people that were farmers were classified 4 whatever it was.


MRS. MOORE: They had important jobs.

MR. NETHER: Yeah, they were deferred because they had to grow the food.

MRS. MOORE: Deferred. Yeah. My husband was deferred just because of his age. He had reached the age in May, and it was June. He was just that much. So he never was a veteran. Now, all my other kids in the Second World War were veterans.

MR. NETHER: Did many people during World War I, many black people, did they rush out to join, to want to go fight in the war?

MRS. MOORE: Now, the Spanish-American War had a group right around here in Lawrence that—and I had an uncle that was in there.

MR. NETHER: Was it the 10th cavalry?

MRS. MOORE: I don't know whether he was in the Tenth Cavalry, but there was this black group from—but at that particular time we were in Indiana. Because I remember my uncle Ory coming by to see us when we were there, and he had been to Cuba, wasn't it?

MR. NETHER: Yes, Cuba. The Ninth and Tenth Cavalry, and I'm not definite on this, but I think the Ninth was in Leavenworth and the Tenth was in Fort Concho, Texas, and both of these groups went to Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and they fought in their own units to help Teddy Roosevelt. World War I, however, was a war where they way people stood in line to fight, and I was just wondering, did black people at that time really rush to want to go in?

MRS. MOORE: We were so self-centered about our own particular family, and I was so relieved with this little kid in my arms that my husband was too old to be counted in this first group that I wasn't worried about what the others did or didn't do. I just thanked the Lord for me.

MR. NETHER: You think your husband would have wanted to go if he had to?

MRS. MOORE: He never talked that way about—I don't think we thought that much about it.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Moore, I'm sorry, we are going to have to stop here and continue some other time.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Moore, so you say that your early involvement with education stemmed from your father's interest in education.

MRS. MOORE: You know, about status symbols, or something. Dad loved people. He loved knowledge, and he wanted us to. One of the first incentives that I remember in our home, we got monthly report cards, and I got a hundred in arithmetic one month, and Dad and Mother were so pleased with it, they gave me a dollar and a dollar was really something—one person owning a whole dollar to do with whatever they wanted to, and they gave me that dollar and he says, "Every time you get one, I will give you a dollar." And I cried. I just broke down and cried, because I said, "That was just an accident that I got a hundred this time. I will never get a hundred again." I never did, but I don't know whether I was defeating my own self. I don't know about that.

MR. NETHER: How did your mother feel about your education?

MRS. MOORE: My mother was the smartest one in her family. She was the first one to graduate from high school. They lived way over in north Lawrence, and when she had to come over here to go to high school she lived with a woman and helped pay for her room and board by this woman. It was a black woman. And the house for years was right next door to the Ninth Street Baptist Church. They finally bought the property and tore it down. But Mother used to live there and help this woman with laundry. And then she graduated from high school and went to KU when KU was only the one building, North College. And at that time Mummy said that there was three years, junior, middle and senior, but she only got to go to this first year. She never graduated from that. She was a teacher for a while, kind of like a country school. All the places that colored people could teach would be colored schools, and this was kind of a country school in Shawnee, Kansas. I have heard Mother mention about that. So education has always been an important thing in our family, whether we all follow through or not. Now, after my dad died, Mother had to go to work. I dropped out of school, but my baby sister went through the grade schools here, through high school, and through KU. She graduated from KU. And I think Mother just sort of felt like that was a projection of herself, and my sister. I'm very proud of her. She has been a smart community-minded person more than professional. She never was a teacher or anything like that, but she worked in community things in Kansas City.

MR. NETHER: Is that where she lived, in Kansas City?

MRS. MOORE: That's where she lives now, in Kansas City, Missouri.

MR. NETHER: Did your mother while you were in school, did she get involved with some of the parent-teacher organizations?

MRS. MOORE: Oh, boy, did she. She wasn't the first PTA president, but she helped in organizing the PTA group in north Lawrence, and that was because they were colored. They called them the colored PTA. There was the white PTA, but with different schools we felt like that you could get more people involved if they worked in that PTA. Now, Mother was one of the lobbyists for Lincoln School over there. When Lincoln School was built, Lawrence had to have three new schools. One of them was Cordley, one of them was McAllister, and the other was Lincoln. The old Lincoln was in flood district. Everyone was talking for these three schools. But there was a group of people that sort of resented Mother even pulling for Lincoln School, because she said if you do that, you are defeating what we want. We want integration. And why should you lobby, lobby, lobby for Lincoln School? That's segregation. You want segregation. And she said, no, she thought by having Lincoln School it was carrying on history and a sort of pride of their school. We had lovely people who were superintendents of the school, and you ought to like and be proud of things. Finally, when it went through that Lincoln School was to be one of the new schools, then come the problem of you never know what's going on inside and behind the scenes. And finally it came out that people that had voted for Lincoln School also had in their mind we will take all the colored children in the grades, grade section, and bus them to north Lawrence, and what did they say that for? That was a regular bombshell. No, sir, we will not bus my child from over here way over there to north Lawrence. Not going to have it. And they integrated. There was one colored room in the school here. There was a colored room in the school south, and there was a colored room over there. When they integrated, they took the teacher, Mrs. Mary J. Dillard, from Pinckney. That was the Pinckney School. And she was transferred to north Lawrence as the principal of Lincoln School in north Lawrence,

MR. NETHER: She was black?

MRS. MOORE: She was black. Miss Dillard was the black teacher over there, and Sadie Stone was the black teacher on this part of town. There was the three different grade schools and I am trying to think of the teacher that was in the—I think it was a Kiser.

MR. NETHER: Okay. Mrs. Laurenia Kiser.

MRS. MOORE: No, it was kin to Laurenia. Laurenia was here yesterday to see me.

MR. NETHER: Was she?

MRS. MOORE: And I think her name was Florence. I am not sure. But, anyhow, it was these three teachers that had charge of the educating of the colored youngsters under the integrated school. We didn't have kindergarten then, I don't think. From first grade on to when they would go into high school.

MR. NETHER: Later on, after you left school, did you go back and get involved in the PTAs?

MRS. MOORE: Very much so. Now, my mother was a PTA president in Lincoln School. I was a PTA president in Lincoln School, and my sister, she went to Lincoln School as a pupil, but when she grew up, she was president of the colored PTA.

MR. NETHER: Can you mention some of the accomplishments of the black PTA, what you think they accomplished during their stay before they had to become integrated?

MRS. MOORE: The things I like to think about is, I don't know how to express it.

MR. NETHER: Do you think that the kids were better equipped to come to school then because they had more parents involved?

MRS. MOORE: I think if you could get in touch with any of the older teachers now, after Miss Dillard's time we had another principal in Mrs. Lillian Webster, and any in the school force will tell you that her children when they came from Lincoln School over here to junior high, they were equipped better than the general student, going to junior high from this side, and especially the colored ones. The pupils from north Lawrence seemed to have a better self-assurance. They seemed to be able to pick up where others couldn't. You know how teachers would have help in visual education, children setting up the slides and doing this, that, and the other. When kids came from Lincoln School over here, the teachers found out that they were able to take over little jobs like that where a colored child on this side well, I guess they just didn't do it.

MR. NETHER: That's something that we don't have now is why I agree with you. We don't have much parental involvement.

MRS. MOORE: Now when all of the programs were good about inviting the different schools to do this, that, and the other, we had a general PTA council where members from different schools would go and make up this central group, and of course they were very very few colored there when I was PTA president. I would come to the meeting, but like a fish out of water in a way, being brought from a group and set in to a sort of big—

MR. NETHER: A different group?

MRS. MOORE: A different type of thing. I seem to lose my identity. And that's what I felt when they closed Lincoln School altogether. I just felt a sense of loss because I know I wouldn't have the involvement.

MR. NETHER: Do you think, Mrs. Moore, that integration has hurt the schools in Lawrence?

MRS. MOORE: No, I don't think—I think maybe the black children that made their mark made it in spite of—but there was this inner something that was whether you are in school or not, you can sit next to a person and feel alienated. You can sit there and not feel like you aren't accepted.

MR. NETHER: And this is the feeling that you had at some—at the major PTA meetings when you would be—

MRS. MOORE: I just sat and listened and would bring back reports of the meeting, but very seldom had I anything to say. I didn't feel like I had something to say that would interest a big group. Like I might have something to say at our PTA.

MR. NETHER: I know what you mean. I know what you are trying to say. You could feel more at home with the group of your peers when you were with the black PTA, but when you went to the other major PTA, you felt alienated, you felt that they were not responsive to you.

MRS. MOORE: Because I would be surprised, pleasantly, when this big group of women, none of us knew each other, and yet sometimes someone would maybe sense my aloneness and would come and speak to me. I think I am sort of a gregarious person that loves people, and I will talk to anyone about anything if I know what I am talking about.


MRS. MOORE: But you want either an invitation of a smile or a look in your eye before you can—I remember I was talking to a woman about going to church. This happened to be a white woman. And I asked, did she go to church? She said no. And I wanted to know why. She said, "Oh, they act like they don't want to speak to you." Now, that was white on white.

MR. NETHER: Un-huh.

MRS. MOORE: And I said, "Well, maybe they were looking for some invitation from you just the same as you was looking for some kind of come-on from them." And that, I think, is so, don't you? In passing, going along the street, if you meet someone's eye, sometimes you just naturally smile and say hello, or if you are biased, you might look them square in the eye and turn off by not speaking.

MR. NETHER: All right. At the PTA meeting could the parents and teachers that were there, could they suggest curriculum for the schools?

MRS. MOORE: No, because generally speaking, they put teachers on that plain as knowing more than I do, and you accept what they say as law and gospel. I don't question things because all of them were farther ahead than you were and even a lot of the children were farther ahead than someone else. So you thought if they had enough education to be elected to that place and since you're older and get out and look back on things, you realize, my goodness, I know more about other people from my school books than I know about my own self. Maybe once in a while in a geography book or something you would see a picture of a black, which I think if you would take a picture of him now you could superimpose it on those old books. You see the bushy hair and you go down the street and you see him have that now. Time repeats itself. History repeats itself.

MR. NETHER: What kind of subjects did you have in the schools then, when you were on the PTA? What did you learn? Arithmetic? Geography?

MRS. MOORE: Yes. You mean in school?

MR. NETHER: Uh-huh. What kind of subjects were taught in school?

MRS. MOORE: English, arithmetic, geography—when I went to school we had physiology, and I don't remember that my kids ever had anything like that. I think back now, I can kind of go from my head to my feet and locate different bones of my skeleton, which I don't think my kids can do. And so that's one thing. And they have things now that they call social studies that I don't know what they are talking about. I think maybe that includes geography or something.

MR. NETHER: Yes, that's what I teach. That's geography, history, political science, sociology.

MRS. MOORE: When I went to school, we had commercial—I went to school and I can remember where the school was, in the basement of the building, and it was a man teacher and it was commercial—is there a commercial geography?

MR. NETHER: No. Commercial design?

MRS. MOORE: No, It had to do with the division, political divisions, wards and—

MR. NETHER: Government?

MRS. MOORE: It was a government—civil government, wasn't that it?

MR. NETHER: Civil government, local.

MRS. MOORE: When you think of my age now, you know, that's going back sometime for me to reach in and bring out of memory.

MR. NETHER: Did any of the subjects, did any of the classes teach things about black people?

MRS. MOORE: Not as a black person, and I can remember how some not from personal experience but now some younger kids would resent Huckleberry Finn, and that Joe, they didn't like to be taught—isn't the word "nigger" in that text?


MRS. MOORE: And they resented that. And they let you know.

MR. NETHER: You never learned anything about like buffalo soldiers or black cowboys?


MR. NETHER: Did you learn about people like Marcus Garvey?

MRS. MOORE: At the time I was out of school, but I know about Marcus Garvey. That Black Africa Movement?

MR. NETHER: Uh-huh.

MRS. MOORE: And sometimes I think he was a con artist because a lot of people lost their savings in that. That's where the black looks up in worship to knowledge, what they think is knowledge. That's just because they didn't have it themselves, don't you think?

MR. NETHER: They were looking for somebody during the time Marcus Garvey was here, and they had been living here over a hundred years and were no better off than they were in slavery, and Marcus Garvey offered them an opportunity to go back to the country which they came from and many blacks ate it up. They said, "I can't wait to get back, I haven't been there, I'm black, I want to go. I want to get away from the white people that's putting restraints on me," and a lot of them joined. But he was eventually put in jail. They got him for tax evasion or they deported him.

MRS. MOORE: The general black person I think is rather gullible. You believe what you want to believe.

MR. NETHER: Why do you think they are gullible?

MRS. MOORE: In our churches this shows up in you hate to do self-examination sometimes. I remember we had a new pastor, and he was from the South. I don't know whether it was Georgia, Alabama, something, but everyone just—he had a silvery tongue. He had a nice pulpit picture. And I can remember that Sunday afternoon when he was going back down South. He had accepted the charge at the church, he was going back down and bring his family to north Lawrence, and I can see him now. He had to go to catch a train and leave before the service was entirely over. And he wanted to tell them all a personal goodbye, but that would be impossible, disrupt all this crowd. So we all put our hands in the air, he had his hand in the air, and we shook hands and said goodbye to him. And he leaves, "I will see you soon." They had taken up a nice big collection to give him the money to bring his family home, and we never did hear from that man again. That's what I am talking about gullible. Oh, yes, I vote for so and so. Sister this and—I think Paul Dunbar made the best story out of that incident ever. Oh, boy. That's what mother says, "Oh, Ethel, you are gullible."

MR. NETHER: Okay. Mrs. Moore, is there anything else you want to tell us about the PTA as it related to the black schools in Lawrence?

MRS. MOORE: I was just thinking when I looked at that picture, the sadness I had when that meeting was over. I was one that would follow PTA meetings and once when we had a national meeting, it was in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. It met at Langston. And while we were there, there was a tour that we went through Oklahoma City. And my sister was the one in Kansas City, was going down as a delegate from our state PTA, and I went with them, and I will always remember that trip. And when I think all of those wonderful trips and the getting together of educated people, you kind of felt like association, you would just sort of automatically absorb some of that and bring it home and would help you kind of maybe raising the level of your awareness, looking a little bit higher than just what's around.

MR. NETHER: Would you mind our taking this picture to use for reproduction in the book that we plan on writing?

MRS. MOORE: If you be sure and take care of it.

MR. NETHER: I won't take it now, but I will come back and get it later, some other time. This would be good. This was the last black PTA meeting.

MRS. MOORE: Of the Douglas County, and it was in Bonner Springs. You see me down in the front there?

MR. NETHER: We will have a photographer and he will reproduce it, then we can bring it right back, when I do come get it.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Moore, we talked about the PTAs and some of the school functions. I want to start today with maybe some things that you can remember about Douglas County during World War I. Can you remember if a lot of blacks from here were drafted or enlisted and maybe places where most of them were stationed?

MRS. MOORE: World War I?


MRS. MOORE: I remember about World War I is that my husband was exempt. His birthday was in May, and it was up to June. And we had our first baby, our little girl, and you had to answer a call, you had to go up and register. And this place we registered was on the second floor of the courthouse, and I remember going up and carrying the baby and having to sit there. It just practically ruined the day. And the place was so full of people coming in from the country. They had to sign up too because they were exempt by their job. They were farmers. So that's one thing I remember about World War I. It wasn't that important to me because my husband wasn't involved in that way, although he had to work long hours doing the work here at home.

MR. NETHER: How would you have felt if he had gone to the war? Would you have been proud or would you have thought—

MRS. MOORE: I think generally people were uniform oriented, if you understand what I mean. And if you wore a uniform of any kind, I remember we would sometimes go down to the depot to watch the trains go through, and we did that just because we saw the troop trains that were going through. Go down there, wave at the boys, and they would wave back. You wouldn't recognize a face, but there was just something to it. We were impressed by that uniform.

MR. NETHER: Was there any racial strife here during World War I?

MRS. MOORE: I don't remember racial strife as such. I know when we lived in Indiana—see, that was the 10 years that I had started to school, from the first grade through the tenth. I was in high school and there was a time in Indiana when you could count the black and the whole four years of high school, and anyhow, my high school was quite small because it was on the second floor of the school building, and they had grade schools on the first floor and other grades on the basement floor, but the whole upstairs floor was high school, so you could see just about how small the town Alexandria was, and when we came back here I was really impressed by the number of blacks in one group. I am just learning how to get used to saying blacks instead of coloreds. They used to answer by saying, "Are you colored?" "No, I am not colored; I was born this way." And that's against blacks. And I have to kind of make myself say blacks.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember Judge Clark?

MRS. MOORE: Oh, yes. I know him and his first wife. Mrs. McClanahan, she was a baby when her mother died.

MR. NETHER: Five years old, I think she said.

MRS. MOORE: Something like that. And her stepmother was a cousin of my sister's husband, so whenever they would come to town to see them, that kept our families quite close to a certain extent. And we have known them all along, and I remember when her father was judge.

MR. NETHER: What type of man was he, Judge Clark?

MRS. MOORE: I don't know enough about their personal life or anything like that, but he apparently was a well-liked and influential person in the community, and that's about the only thing I could say about it. I have been in and out of their home sort of socially, but through his wife belonged to the same clubs and then he had died by that time too. I can remember how he looked.

MR. NETHER: Okay. Were there any other black professionals here? Let's take the time around World War I, early 1900s.

MRS. MOORE: I was trying to think about jobs and things as I could remember them, and I just writing down lists of the things here, and then I was thinking railroading as jobs or living source for people. And in going over the mental things I think how much we depend upon the government for things. The judge was hired by Douglas County people. There were mailmen, we had mailmen here, we had people that worked for the city and that's all really government-backed. And when you start to think, you just know how much our livelihood is—the source of it was government. People that are in the army, and way down to the present day my sons work in the—I had 2 sons—one of them died in the veterans' hospital.

MR. NETHER: Why do you think most blacks did work with government here in Douglas County?

MRS. MOORE: You got jobs where you could get them.

MR. NETHER: And that's still—

MRS. MOORE: The self-preservation.

MR. NETHER: And that's the only place where they were generally hired?

MRS. MOORE: In just thinking about jobs, I said they worked on railroads. I think railroads probably were backed by government, but we had people that worked in the building of railroads and the gangs in upkeep of railroads, and my stepfather, he worked at the railroad yards in Union Pacific in north Lawrence. And then there were a lot of porters, people that were porters. Some of our teachers on this group pictures I was showing you, they taught in the winter and in the summer they would be porters on the trains. I have met a porter on the train who I recognized as a teacher that I had met in our PTA state meetings. I don't know whether you call railroads government or not.

MR. NETHER: Most Pullman porters is what you are talking about there, that's the jobs they had and it was a prestigious job for blacks in the early 1900s.

MRS. MOORE: And you just think that you had to go to school and get your diploma and one thing or another to take that and kind of waste it in a way, but he was—I always thought it's better to be ready and not needed than to have the opportunity and not be ready to accept it, and I think that's the attitude a lot blacks had for a long while. They looked up to education. There was something about being an educated person that had something to make you feel happy and proud about, and if you couldn't achieve it yourself, you are just proud of someone you know that did achieve it. I never got out of high school, but my sister, my baby sister, mother saw that she got clear through KU, and I am just as proud as punch of her, because she was a state PTA president and every once in a while I would see something that she would be associated with Kansas City, Kansas. She lived in Kansas City, Kansas, then. And it just made me good and proud.

MR. NETHER: During the early 1900s did you ever hear of Booker T. Washington?

MRS. MOORE: Oh, heavens, yes. Of course, my dad was crazy about Booker T. Washington. And along about that time we were living in Indiana, as you know, and they had what they called a businessman's association, and they had this big meeting and Booker T. Washington was going to be in Indianapolis, and Dad took Mother to Indianapolis to this big convention, and they got a chance to meet Booker T. Washington in person. And so they were very pleased about that. And of course I was pleased too because I think somewhere among my papers I had a note that Booker T. Washington had written to Dad, but just probably a little informal something, but it had his signature on it, and I was wondering, I don't know just exactly where that is. But my dad was race minded. I loved it. Paul Laurence Dunbar, we used to have all of his books, and I know different ones, the ones that he wrote, the prose, you think of Paul Laurence Dunbar as being a poet, but he wrote prose, and there's two of his books that I was very fond of, one called The Love of Landry and then there was a group of short stories that he had, was The Strength of Gideon, plus the prose of Cabin and Fields, Candlelighting Time, and Lyrics of Low Life. Now, all of those were Paul Laurence Dunbar things. And I was exposed to that just from the love of my dad for his race and his people and wanting to pass it on to his children.

MR. NETHER: Okay. Did you ever hear of Du Bois?

MRS. MOORE: Oh, yes.

MR. NETHER: How did you feel about him?

MRS. MOORE: Du Bois was here in Lawrence. Did you know that he had a speaking engagement here? The time I heard him it was at Ninth Street, and I was impressed by his sort of aloofness. He wasn't warm. He was dedicated, but it was Du Bois against Washington.

MR. NETHER: Right.

MRS. MOORE: See, the two sides. And Washington felt like you should educate the hand as well as the mind. Du Bois was a sort of a mental giant. He had the magazine The Crisis, and I think Mama had quite a number in her things here. There's some old Crisis. But I liked Washington better than I did Du Bois, personally, because I didn't seem to feel the warmth. I can see him speaking now, and he seemed so aloof, just like that, and kind of look over you like he was—you were there but I see you and I don't see you.

MR. NETHER: And Washington was warmer, you think?

MRS. MOORE: I never did meet Washington personally, but I think he had a more of a human appeal, to me.

MR. NETHER: How do you think most people in Douglas County felt about either Du Bois or Washington? You think they favored Washington's deals or favored Du Bois' deals?

MRS. MOORE: I would be reluctant to put my—I only think personally. I think the very fact that KU was here in Lawrence influenced a lot of our thinking. Our knowledge about knowledge, if you know what I mean. You just looked up to a person that you think knows, and I think a lot of them wasn't as turned on about the way Washington thought. But I think he had the best foundation for his educating or education plans and system. You educate the hand, and if you educate it enough, you have to use your brain to make your hands do what you want them to do, and if you do that, the sort of educating you did there will kind of take care of itself in a way.

MR. NETHER: Right after the war was a period that was said to be the Roaring 20s. What did you do for fun in the 20s?

MRS. MOORE: The date doesn't set out that much in my mind. When dates begin to set out it was the 30s, the Depression, but when I think of what we did for amusement and interest, I think we—churches and church programs had a big part to play in what we did.

MR. NETHER: I know again this is a general question, but do you think personally that the 1920s were prosperous for blacks?

MRS. MOORE: I think so, because any wartime, see, that was in 1919, probably the end of the war, that my husband wasn't old enough to join, and I am thinking about at that time I think it was mostly churches that filled our interest.

MR. NETHER: After the 20s was a stock market crash in 1929. It was a time when many people were out of work, over one third of the country. How did this Depression affect the blacks here in Douglas County?

MRS. MOORE: Putting myself in that place, I remember when I first married, my husband felt like he was the head of the family. I was supposed to stay home, take care of the home, and take care of the children, and he didn't particularly want me to go out to find work. I had the extra time to do church work and club work and PTA work. I did quite a lot of that because I had the time more than a lot of other church members did. Then when the Depression time started and my husband didn't have work, he allowed me to go out because so many women here in town with their husbands—with the Depression hitting everybody, more white women had to have help, and that's where I could get extra money. That's where I was introduced to day work and the beginning of catering and things like that. And my husband was able to what you might call "scuffle" to keep our utilities paid. I always have a sense of pride and accomplishment when I realize that I had to have a telephone to get my jobs. We had to have this, that and the other, but through the whole time, the work that I did kept my children from being hungry, and the scuffling my husband did—he had worked at the paper mill and it was closing down—but he knew metals and scraps and things, and he was able to salvage enough from what he would go around picking up, and we never had a phone turned off or the lights turned off or our gas turned off in the whole time, so I thought that was worthy of commendation for him, taking care of his family. I said that my boys were raised to be very efficient housewives if they had to be.

MR. NETHER: How did you feel, Mrs. Moore, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected?

MRS. MOORE: I have always been a Republican. Now, I don't know why I am a Republican, just like I have always been a Baptist. I think I was just raised that way and was satisfied enough not to look into any other religion or politics or—and I voted Republican—in spite of people looking up to Delano Roosevelt. And I just was a Republican that was under a Democratic president.

MR. NETHER: Were you happy with the job that Roosevelt did when he first came into office?

MRS. MOORE: With the bank holidays and all that?


MRS. MOORE: I didn't know what that meant because I never handled enough money to make bank holidays mean anything to me. I remember that they had them, but it didn't affect me one way or the other.


MRS. MOORE: But what I am very grateful for him now is when he started the program of Social Security, because I had no idea that I would be living this long after my husband died, and I am living totally on Social Security. I thank Roosevelt for having thought of it.

MR. NETHER: Was your father a Republican?

MRS. MOORE: Now, I didn't know much about politics then because I was just 16 when he died. I wasn't old enough to vote. After Mother came back, brought us all back here, she seemed to keep up in politics more than I did. She would work block captains and—

MR. NETHER: Ward captains?

MRS. MOORE: Ward captains, and doing the campaign work for different things.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember when women were first allowed to vote?

MRS. MOORE: Women around here voted in municipal elections before they voted for a president, and I think all of—a lot of us were kind of naïve, we didn't know really what we were doing. I know we tried to get people to go register, so you could vote and you didn't realize how some of them didn't know what they were doing after they did that. One little story that a friend of a friend of myself, we were trying to sell her the idea of registering to vote and she finally did. We went to the polls and voted, so proud of what we were doing, marking our ballot in secret, and this darling dear, when we got out of there, I said to my friend, "I voted for so and so," and she said, "I did too." "Nanny, who did you vote for?" "Well, you know, I didn't know any of them and so I just wasn't partial, and I voted for all of them." So, you see, it's amusing in a way, but she was very serious about it. She wanted to do the right thing, so if a vote would help, she wasn't partial, she said, "I just voted for all of them." And she didn't realize that her vote was thrown out.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Moore, how did you react when you heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed?

MRS. MOORE: I can remember that day too. It was on Sunday, and we had come home from church. I think we were at dinner, and that's the beginning of World War II. I was just stunned. Of course, Pearl Harbor was so far away, you didn't think of it as bothering you way in the middle of a country, but I was just stunned. When it was brought home more to me is when my boys had to begin going.

MR. NETHER: How did you feel when your sons had to go and fight a war?

MRS. MOORE: You just felt like it's something that comes and you just take it the best you can.

MR. NETHER: In Douglas County at this time—I want you to correct me if I am wrong—blacks couldn't go to theaters, they couldn't go to restaurants, they worked mostly with domestic jobs, unskilled labor, and house cleaning, and so on.


MR. NETHER: Blacks for the most part were not equal with whites. But now the war came. Why do you think blacks in Douglas County were still enthusiastic about going to fight or even willing to go fight?

MRS. MOORE: Just like you read about the mothers writing to younger people in the South and they saying, "Don't do this, don't get into trouble," and the older ones had this mistaken notion that you had a place, and you don't rock the boat, you are coming out of that place that they put you in, don't try to make trouble to keep it from going so fast. That's the only way I can think of it. I don't know what other people were thinking. I think about myself having spent my earlier school days in a very integrated environment, and coming here, I enjoy working with my own kind because if you were in this integrated situation, it's just like dropping a drop of ink in a glass of water. It's in there but you sure can't see it, and I liked the idea of the colored churches and the colored clubs and the colored this, that, and the other.

MR. NETHER: You felt that when your sons were going to war they were going for that purpose, not to protect Jim Crowism or whites but to protect you?

MRS. MOORE: We are a part of it, and if you protect a white person, you were protecting me. That's even the way I felt about some of the unions. Don't fight and fuss about this, that, and the other, because if they have the right kind of program and you are working there, you would be carried on with it. I might have had the wrong attitude, and a lot of people thought I did, but people are different all along. Sometimes you don't know your own self, and you aren't outgoing to other people and lot of times you don't let a person enter  your mind just as a protective something. You look at them sort of skeptically and say, "Now why are they doing this? Do you have an ulterior motive?"

MR. NETHER: Where did your sons go when they were shipped off from here to fight? Where did they do their basic training at?

MRS. MOORE: They all, I think, went up to Leavenworth to be sent to different places. I had a boy that was in the Navy. I had a boy that was in Oklahoma. One was in Wachuka; isn't it, Arizona?

MR. NETHER: I haven't heard of Wachuka.

MRS. MOORE: A place in Arizona, and one of them was sent over to England.

MR. NETHER: What were their jobs when they were in the service? What did they do? Were they infantrymen? Did they fight? Were they airplane pilots? Were they cooks?

MRS. MOORE: None of them were cooks. They were with a group. I think I have a picture of one of my boys that went to a school in Kansas City. Sometime I will show it to you.

MR. NETHER: In 1954 they had a decision which took place about 25 miles from here in Topeka. That decision was known as Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. It said that it was unlawful to have segregated facilities.

MRS. MOORE: That's what I was telling you the other day about. That's one reason our colored PTA split up, to join the state PTA, and that just made me think there was this drop of ink that had been dropped into a glass of water. It's in there, but it's lost all shape or form, and we just lost that.

MR. NETHER: What happened to the school system here? Were there any drastic changes which you saw besides black people now had to be integrated? Were there any major changes which took place here then?

MRS. MOORE: We had had too long of a practice session, if you know what I mean, but when these three new schools were built, that integrated all of Lawrence here, and there was a group of people that were hanging on to Lincoln School, hanging on to its identity, and I guess those that lobbied for Lincoln School influenced the powers that be enough so Lincoln School influenced the powers that be enough so Lincoln School did continue for a number of years over there before they finally integrated it into Woodlawn and got rid of the Lincoln School building.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Moore, I want to ask you about another war. How do you think most blacks, and maybe you can't answer this, but how do you think most blacks felt about going to fight in the Viet Nam War?

MRS. MOORE: See, I was past that. I had no way of knowing. My youngsters were too old to be in that, so I don't know about that at all.

MR. NETHER: All right. I understand. Do you remember anything about the racial tension which took place here in Lawrence during the early 1970s when a lot of the blacks up on the Hill and at Lawrence High School were fighting to be more involved in school activities?

MRS. MOORE: I was past that too. But one thing that I remember, George Brown, who was the lt. governor of Colorado, was born here in Lawrence. He went to school in the grade school here. When he grew up, there was the time when they had a municipal swimming pool, and they didn't allow colored kids to go to the pool. They had no way of learning to swim. When they would go to swim, they would have to go down to the river, and that going down to the river several kids were drowned. I think that influenced the thinking of some white people, that it wasn't fair. It just really wasn't fair to have a swimming pool and the youngsters couldn't swim in it. I think that is one of the beginnings of our municipal pool here. Now, I don't know anything about that because I have been housebound comparatively speaking ever since the municipal pool had been, but I wanted to tell a story that George told us once when he was here on a visit. As kids they would go around, look at this swimming pool, and know that they couldn't swim and that at night he and some of them would climb over that fence and swim in that pool, and then the next day or something as they would go past, they would just say, "They are swimming after me." Now, that's just a little story about probably the effect that someone might have had on what they thought about swimming pools.

MR. NETHER: Was George Brown born here?

MRS. MOORE: Yes. His mother is a very dear friend of mine. He went to Sunday School down at the Ninth Street Church, a lovely person.

MR. NETHER: I have met him. I met him in Topeka one year. He's a fraternity brother of mine, too, Kappa Alpha Psi.

MRS. MOORE: They had a Kappa chapter up here at KU, and this brother-in-law of mine was one of the—what do you call those?

MR. NETHER: Alpha?

MRS. MOORE: No. He would come down to, I think he was on commission or something, that they come down to oversee the program.

MR. NETHER: Alumni member?

MRS. MOORE: Yes, alumni member.


MRS. MOORE: My sister, his wife, was—what were the girls?

MR. NETHER: Deltas?

MRS. MOORE: The Deltas. She was the Delta sweetheart one year here at KU.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Moore, is there anything else that you would like to tell us, maybe? Do you think blacks have had a fair shake here in Douglas County or maybe any stories or something you would like to share with us?

MRS. MOORE: That's another thing that I think is sort of personal, the way I think about it. I think they have had a fair shake that if you want to be, you can be. You have to be true to your own self, to your own self be true, then it must follow as the night the day, that you can't then be false to any man. If you remember that quotation. And it's a personal commitment that you should have, and I can't understand younger people nowadays. I am not as close to them as my mother was to younger people, and I think her grandchildren was closer to her than my grandchildren are to me, and I think maybe it's because I don't understand their goals and what they want and what they like. Rather than be turned off and have them turn against me altogether, I keep my mouth shut and say, "It's your life, you will have to live it." And to accept it to the best of my ability. I may not exactly like the way they do or the results or one thing or another, but whether they are good or bad, they are my good or bad grandchildren, and you live with it. You be proud of accomplishments or you be brokenhearted about accomplishments, and say, "Well, they are living this day just the same as I am," and when the sun goes down, you look back on it, you have to look back on whether you are proud of what's happened to you. If you are not proud, you either change it or stay with it for tomorrow. And I just being that much behind you have to look at you and either applaud or say, "I can't understand," and that's that.

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